Halima Aden calls on all young people to use social media to promote change

Halima Aden has called on all young people to use their social media accounts to promote anti-racism movements.The Somali-American star rose to fame in 2016 when she became the first contestant to wear a burkini and hijab, or veil, in the Miss Minnesot…

Halima Aden has called on all young people to use their social media accounts to promote anti-racism movements.

The Somali-American star rose to fame in 2016 when she became the first contestant to wear a burkini and hijab, or veil, in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, and in April 2019, made history when she posed in modest clothing for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue.

Now, Aden is using her platform to demand action over racial injustice and police brutality in the U.S. following the shocking death of unarmed African-African man George Floyd at the hands of police officers on 25 May – and has begged her 1.1 million Instagram followers to do the same.

“Like many right now, I keep asking myself what more I can be doing and how I can use my platform to see justice served,” she wrote in a candid op-ed for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. “I’ve been happy to see a community on social media where people are providing hope with calls to action, a show of support, and a pledge to do better.

“Everyone in today’s digital age is a social media influencer, whether you have 20 followers or 20 million; you have the power to update a community of people with the click of a button. If you can commit to using your voice – big or small – right now, that gives me hope!”

Aden went on to share that she and her roommate felt compelled to visit the spot in Minneapolis where Floyd was arrested the day after he died in order to pay their respects and express solidarity with other mourners peacefully gathered there.

And the model was overwhelmed by the sense of community she witnessed in her home state at such a pivotal moment in time.

“I know that Minnesota will be a catalyst for change. There are flaws in our system and I have faith that my fellow Minnesotans will have the difficult conversations and put leaders in place who can unite us. We are seeing necessary calls for reform by government agencies and that is a step in the right direction,” the 22-year-old added.

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Halima Aden creates face masks for hijabi frontline workers

Halima Aden has helped design a range of face masks for those who wear hijabs. The model, who is best known for being the first to wear a hjiab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, has teamed up with Anywear and…

Halima Aden has helped design a range of face masks for those who wear hijabs.

The model, who is best known for being the first to wear a hjiab in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, has teamed up with Anywear and Allure magazine’s Banding Together project to create a collection of face coverings and hijab sets.

Before she embarked on her modelling career, the 22-year-old used to clean hospital rooms at St. Cloud Hospital in Minnesota, so she knows what it’s like to try and wear face and head coverings at the same time.

“Early on, I understood the importance of wearing that extra protective gear, whether it was the gloves or the personal protection equipment, so when Covid-19 happened, and there were so many shortages, I felt such sympathy,” she told Vogue.com. “I struggled with my scarf and having to pin it… I can remember wishing that there was a way for the hijab to be a part of the uniform instead of me having to go and match the fabric and never be able to find scarf options to go with my scrubs.”

While traditional face masks are secured behind the ears, Aden’s face coverings come with a “built-in extender” comprised of two buttons so they can clasp around the back of the head. For each purchase, Anywear officials will donate a piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I wanted something that would bring joy to the patients and the healthcare workers,” the model said of the collection. “This is giving people the tools to feel comfortable and do their job to the best of their ability… There are so many hijabi women working in healthcare, and their comfort is as important as anyone else’s in the workforce.”

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Halima Aden using lockdown to experiment with new hijab styles

Halima Aden is using her free time in lockdown to come up with new ways to style her hijab. The model gained notice in 2016 when she became the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a burkini and hijab, and she broke down barriers…

Halima Aden is using her free time in lockdown to come up with new ways to style her hijab.

The model gained notice in 2016 when she became the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a burkini and hijab, and she broke down barriers even further last year when she became the first model to wear them on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Aden was also the first hijab-wearing model to walk international runways and to be signed to a major agency, with her modelling contract stating that the headscarf is a non-negotiable part of her work.

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, the 22-year-old, who is spending quarantine with her family in Minnesota, shared that she was using the downtime from her hectic schedule to find new ways to style her wardrobe staple.

“For me, this has been the perfect time to experiment and come up with new hijab and turban styles and to get creative with my staple wardrobe item, the headscarf. My followers are always asking for scarf tutorials so you may be seeing some fresh looks soon!” she said.

Aden also revealed that she has been keeping her spirits up and staying hopeful by using her mother’s mantra – “Tough times never last, but strong people do” – and writing thank you notes.

“I think we all have so much to be grateful for and it’s the perfect time to reflect on our blessings and let those who have positively impacted our lives know we appreciate them,” the model explained. “We will get through this. It’s important for everyone to remember that and to have hope that we will come out of this – in some aspects, in a better place than we were before.”

Elsewhere, Aden shared that she has been spreading hope from home by continuing her work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and advocating for companies and organisations who are helping communities around the world during the pandemic.

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